Barbecue and fast food bear heat of butchers’ strike
By Nauman Tasleem
LAHORE: The prices of barbecue and fast food have gone up sharply due to a ten-day strike by butchers during which time meat was unavailable at many shops, revealed a Daily Times survey conducted on Tuesday.
The prices of beef kebabs went up to Rs 12 from Rs 8, while mutton kebabs were selling for Rs 20 instead of Rs 15. Mincemeat bread that was available for Rs 15 is now being sold for Rs 25. “The strike forced us to raise prices because butchers are not selling us beef and mutton. We are forced to buy meat from the city suburbs or other districts,” said Model Town shop vendor Shahzeb Khan.
Prices of beef burgers have also gone up; burgers earlier being sold for Rs 35 are now available for Rs 45. “We are have no choice,” said a burger maker in Barkat Market, “Our costs have gone up.”
Fast food sellers are also buying meat from districts like Gujranwala and Sheikhupura. “Slaughterhouses in other districts know about the shortage of meat in Lahore and are making phenomenal profits by quoting inflated prices.
Coupled with transportation costs, the result is a price hike in food items – meaning that the costs have to be borne by customers,” another vendor Maqsood Ahmed in Gulberg Main Market said. When asked about precautions against meat from sick animals, Khan said, “We try to purchase meat from healthy animals but slip-ups happen.”
A veterinary doctor, Asif, at the Livestock Department said, “Meat coming from Sheikhupura and Gujranwala slaughterhouses can’t be unhygienic because doctors there take all possible precautions.”
To a question whether meat was being slaughtered illegally in the city or other districts, Asif said, “Controlling illegal slaughtering is a difficult task, however the ratio of illegal meat in the market is low because transporting such meat is next to impossible because of stringent government actions against culprits.” The strike has also taken its toll on chicken prices.
Chicken in posh localities is now available between Rs 110 to 125, a sharp rise from the earlier price of Rs 100. In middle class areas, the chicken prices have gone up from Rs 90 to between Rs 100 and 110.
“People who were using beef and mutton earlier have had to switch to chicken. The demand is higher and has caused a price hike,” said Muhammad Abid, a Garden Town chicken seller.
However, Prices in Johar Town, Township, Samanabad, Iqbal Town and Sabzazar remained unchanged.
The public is deeply concerned about the price hike and has shown bitter resentment towards the district and provincial governments for failing to control prices and bothering people and businessmen.
“The decisions made by district government officials are erratic. First they imposed an illogical system to generate money and now, instead of controlling the crisis, have allowed it continue for ten days. Now the district government is adopting the previous system again,” criticised citizen Sadeed Ather.
Shopkeepers fear that even though butchers have called off the strike, the prices will remain high for the days to come. “It will take a couple of days before the prices of beef, mutton and chicken will settle,” a wholesaler said.